UPDATE: Two Arrested in Huntington Museum of Art Break-in

By: WSAZ News Staff Email
By: WSAZ News Staff Email

UPDATE 6/21/12 @ 4:45p.m.
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Two men have been arrested and charged with the break-in and attempted antiquities theft at the Huntington Museum of Art.

Huntington Police and Beckley Police arrested Remington Wright, 23, and Deon Staunton, 24, both of Beckley on Thursday.

In the early morning hours of April 4, Huntington Police responded to an alarm call at the Huntington Museum of Art. When officers arrived on scene, they observed a person with a flashlight on the roof of the museum. A K-9 unit was called to the scene and soon located clothing worn by the suspects who had fled into some nearby woods.

Officers then located an abandoned U-haul truck on the grounds of the museum that contained various items of evidence, according to a news release.

During the course of the investigation, police say they learned the U-haul was rented in Beckley by Remington Wright.

Officers also recovered tools believed to be used during the break-in and say they determined that Wright had bought them at a Lowe's in Beckley just prior to the break-in.

Detectives also say a local pawn shop owner reported that Wright had approached him prior to the attempted theft in an effort to arrange the sale of silver antiquities.

It was the museum’s gallery of silver and portraits of Great Britain that had been broken into and damaged in the attempted theft. That gallery remains closed.

As part of the investigation, detectives executed three search warrants on Thursday. One was for Wright’s residence in Beckley and the other for DNA samples from both men.

Both men were taken to the Southern Regional Jail awaiting extradition to Huntington. They are being charged with breaking and entering.

This was the first attempted break-in at the museum in its 60-year history.

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UPDATE 4/5/12 @ 4:45p.m.
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- An apparent museum heist is foiled -- but not before a little damage was done.

The Huntington Museum of Art was the target of an attempted robbery early Wednesday morning. But, while museum staff and the police say the would-be robbers didn't get away with anything -- the fact that someone tried is noteworthy.

In the museum's 60-year history, they've never experienced a break-in until now.

“I feel very heartened it all worked,” Margaret Mary Layne, Executive Director of the Huntington Museum of Art said.

While Layne can't release many details, she does confirm the museum's gallery of silver and portraits of Great Britain was broken into early Wednesday morning.

According to the museum's website, it's home to quite a few silver serving and presentation pieces from Britain's 18th and 19th centuries. It's valuable pieces like these, and many others throughout the museum, that warrant an extensive emergency preparedness policy.

“We have an emergency response with our security system that notifies us when the alarm goes off," Layne said. "So, we responded immediately and the police were here immediately -- so it appears we prevented any loss of any of our objects.”

That's the good news. But, still someone went to great lengths to commit a crime in a place that's heavily protected with alarms and surveillance.

According to the police report, when the alarm sounded and officers arrived, they found a u-haul sitting on the lot with the back door open.

Officers also spotted someone wearing all black clothing moving across the roof. They quickly set up a perimeter and searched the roof and surrounding areas but found nothing.

“We hold the objects we do have here in trust for the community and I feel like this is a crime against our entire city and region and not just our institution,” Layne said.

WSAZ.com spoke with Huntington Police Chief Skip Holbrook. He said they have several promising leads they're running down, but don't want to release too many specifics for fear of jeopardizing the case.

As far as the U-haul, police are still looking into how that fits into the case. Certainly, had the alarm system failed, we could be talking about a much different situation. Police aren't saying how many people broke in.

The museum was closed Wednesday for repairs as a result of the break-in, but reopened Thursday. The silver exhibit remains closed until further notice.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- It is the first time in 60 years that someone has broken into the Huntington Museum of Art, according to the Museum Director.

Now police are trying to find the person responsible for the attempted burglary.

Huntington Police were called to the museum at 4 a.m.Wednesday after 911 got call from the museum director saying that there was a U-Haul trailer parked behind the museum with its door open. The director had gone to museum after getting a call from the alarm company shortly after 3:30 a.m.

The police report also says that when officers arrived they found a person dressed in black moving across the roof of the building. A perimeter was quickly set up around the building. Following a search, police did not find the suspect in, or outside, the building.

Margaret Mary Layne is the Director and said the thieves targeted the one specific gallery -- the Silver and Portraits of Great Britain. Layne said nothing was taken.

That exhibit area is closed until sometime next week following the incident.

Layne also tells WSAZ.com she has received several phone calls from Huntington residents upset that something like this happened, "because everything we do here is for our community. This is a crime against everybody in the city and in our region, not just our institution."

Because the investigation is ongoing, police are not releasing any details of the incident.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.

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